Blitz in Bejing: Day One

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/13/2014 – The marathon has begun! The best of the best are battling it out in China and it is time for the blitz portion of the event. A massive 30 blitz games will be played per player in a span of three days. After day one there is a tie for the lead in the open section between Leko, Ivanchuk and Aronian. Meanwhile in the women's Hou Yifan took a little revenge on Gunina.

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On December 11th the World Mind Games began in Beijing, China. One week some of the word's best players compete in Chess, Go, Draughts, Chinese Chess, (Xiangqi), and Bridge. In chess 16 top men and women play rapid, blitz and basque chess. After four rounds of rapid Nana Dzagnidze, Wang Yue, Wang Hao and Alexander Grischuk are the leading mind acrobats.

The chessplayers will play rapid, blitz and Basque chess (two players play two games simultaneously against each other - one with white, one with black). All in all 24 medals can be won. The first chess tournament is the rapid competition for men and women (Thursday and Friday). After that follows blitz (Saturday to Monday) until the Basque chess tournament finally rounds it off (Tuesday and Wednesday).

The day kicked off for two players very early in the morning. They were the kind volunteers for a photo session by the National Stadium:

Hou Yifan, reigning Women's World Champion

Her rival for the exhibition could not come from
farther away! Dominguez is Cuba's #1 player

The day was cold but with beautiful blue skies, unusual for this month in Beijing

The Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest for its unique shape,
was designed and built for the 2008 Summer Olympics

Open Blitz - Day One

Blitz is a unique type of chess. Decisive results, blunders, tactical shots are all more common than in classical time controls. For this reason, material is often not regarded as highly as initiative, and some times being down a piece is acceptable if your opponent is playing with seconds on his block!

Mamedyarov showed us an amazing pawn break to kick things off in round one:

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov showing his tactical genius

[Event "SportAccord Blitz 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.13"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A17"] [WhiteElo "2765"] [BlackElo "2744"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2kr1br1/1bqp1pp1/pp2p2p/2p5/N1P1PnRP/1P2QP2/PB1P1P2/2KR1B2 b - - 0 16"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2014.12.13"] 16... e5 {Guarding against d4, or so Wojtaszek thought.} 17. d4 $5 {A risky approach! Whether the move works is not as important as how well his opponent reacted. This is blitz, after all!} h5 $6 (17... cxd4 $1 18. Bxd4 exd4 19. Qxf4 Bd6 $1 20. Qxf7 b5 {and it would have been the Polish player that kept the initiative.}) 18. dxe5 hxg4 19. Qxf4 gxf3 20. Qxf7 Rh8 21. Bh3 {Black is up the exchange, and in normal chess it is possible that he would have eventually consolidated. However in Blitz it is always difficult to defend.} Rxh4 $4 {A bad blunder.} 22. Rxd7 $1 Rxd7 23. Qxf8+ Qd8 24. Nxb6+ $1 {Now all of Black's position collapses.} Kc7 25. Qxc5+ Bc6 26. Bxd7 Rh6 27. e6 1-0

Nobody showed a clear dominance from the start. After half of the day was through Nepomniachtchi, Ivanchuk, Radjabov and Aronian all shared the lead with 3.5/5.

Mamedyarov-Aronian finished in favor of the Armenian

Out of these players two went on to share the lead at the end of the day and two collapsed! Ivanchuk finished strong with three draws (against Leko, Grischuk and Dominguez) and two wins (Aronian, Gelfand) to finish 7.0/10.

Ruslan Ponomariov had some problems to start off. He scored two draws and three losses in his first five rounds,
but he at least managed to beat Mamedyarov in the last round of the day to finish on 3.0/10.

Boris Gelfand scored -1 (4.5/10) after a tough day of chess

Aronian won his game against Wang Hao in round six but lost to Ivanchuk in round seven. He quickly recovered and defeated Nepomniachtchi and Radjabov back to back.

[Event "SportAccord Blitz 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.13"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2797"] [BlackElo "2714"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3kb1r/p1pqp2p/2p1n1p1/4P3/2Bp4/5P2/PPPP1P2/R1BQK2R w KQkq - 0 14"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2014.12.13"] 14. d3 {How often do you see a game like this in classical chess? Black's position is pretty bad since his king does not have a safe future and the light-squared bishop is too powerful.} Bg7 15. f4 O-O-O $6 16. c3 $1 Rdf8 17. Qb3 Nc5 18. Qb4 {Black cannot move the knight because of Ba6 mate! A crushing victory.} 1-0

Also tied for the lead at the end of the day is Leko. He took quite a different approach to getting there: he did not lose a single game! He finished the day well with victories against Wang Yue and Vachier-Lagrave.

Blitz Standings

Rank Name Rtg FED Pts
1 Ivanchuk Vassily 2720 UKR 7
2 Aronian Levon 2850 ARM 7
3 Leko Peter 2694 HUN 7
4 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2866 AZE 6
5 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2776 FRA 6
6 Grischuk Alexander 2819 RUS
7 Wang Hao 2693 CHN
8 Radjabov Teimour 2715 AZE 5
9 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2788 RUS
10 Harikrishna P. 2728 IND
11 Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2743 POL
12 Dominguez Perez Leinier 2728 CUB
13 Gelfand Boris 2757 ISR
14 Wang Yue 2680 CHN 3
15 Ponomariov Ruslan 2758 UKR 3
16 Bacrot Etienne 2739 FRA

Replay blitz games 1-10

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Women's Blitz - Day One

Still going strong: Valentina Gunina

Gunina and Hou Yifan are again the frontrunners in the standings. The Russian started with a smashing 3.0/3, but lost to Mariya Muzychuk in round four. Hou Yifan started with a draw against Stefanova, and then two wins against Dzagnidze and Paehtz put her in a good position.

Things heated up as Ushenina obtained a small measure of revenge from the World Championship match by beating Hou Yifan in their blitz game. At half time, it was Harika Dronavalli and Ju Wenjun that led with 4.0/5, but they both collapsed in the following rounds.

Anna Muzychuk (6.0/10) is doing a quite a bitbetter than her sister, Mariya, (3.5/10) so far

The Indian player went down in flames with four (!) consecutive losses while Ju Wenjun lost three in a row!

Elizabeth Paehtz will start the day tomorrow against Anna Muzychuk

Hou Yifan beat Kosintseva but lost to Kosteniuk, and then had to win three in a row for her lead. Meanwhile Gunina won her rounds six and seven against Dzagnidze and Anna Muzychuk. She entered the last round of the day with an extra half a point, but then the following happened:

[Event "SportAccord Blitz w 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.13"] [Round "10.5"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Gunina, Valentina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B10"] [WhiteElo "2673"] [BlackElo "2522"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/p1R3p1/4q1bp/3p4/3P4/4BQ2/PP3PKP/8 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2014.12.13"] 35. Qf4 {The position is difficult for White. Her king is somewhat exposed and it doesn't help that there are opposite colored bishops.} Kh7 $4 {Oops!} (35... Rf8 36. Qg3 Rf6 $17 {makes White's position very difficult to hold. She has to conjure up a way to push back the threats. For now the threat is Be4+ and Rg6.} ) 36. Qxh6+ {The h6 pawn is not protected because of the pin, and that is checkmate next move.} 1-0

Hou Yifan enters the final day with a half point lead, but that is not that significant considering there are 20 games left!

Blitz Standings - Women

Rank Name Rtg FED Pts
1 Hou Yifan 2662 CHN 7
2 Gunina Valentina 2582 RUS
3 Dzagnidze Nana 2591 GEO 6
4 Muzychuk Anna 2665 UKR 6
5 Stefanova Antoaneta 2569 BUL 6
6 Ushenina Anna 2467 UKR 6
7 Ju Wenjun 2469 CHN
8 Koneru Humpy 2521 IND
9 Zhao Xue 2576 CHN 5
10 Kosteniuk Alexandra 2479 RUS 5
11 Kosintseva Tatiana 2578 RUS
12 Harika Dronavalli 2533 IND
13 Paehtz Elisabeth 2522 GER 4
14 Muzychuk Mariya 2439 UKR
15 Cramling Pia 2433 SWE 3
16 Khotenashvili Bela 2457 GEO 2

Replay women's blitz 1-10

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Another point of attraction was the visit to the sports hall which hosted no less than 800 children, participants in the World Youth Mind Games, playing just like their elderly colleagues: Chess, Bridge, Draughts, Xiangqi and Go. Some of the visiting kids had the chance to play grandmaster Erwin l'Ami, who is doing commentary along with his wife Alina l'Ami, in a simultaenous exhibition:

A grandmaster at work

Against irresistible opposition

Pictures and information from the official website by Gu Xiaobing and Alina l'Ami


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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